Amalfi Tourist Attractions
SituationThe seaside resort of Amalfi lies on the south coast of the Sorrento peninsula at the northern edge of the Gulf of Salerno - at the mouth of a deep gorge. Amalfi is one of the most popular holiday resorts in Italy, particularly favored by the people of Naples.HistoryAccording to legend Amalfi was founded by Constantine the Great. During the Middle Ages it was an independent state with a population of some 50,000, ruled by self-appointed dukes who later became hereditary. In 1077 the town was incorporated by Robert Guiscard in the Norman kingdom; through its active trade with the Orient it rose to influence and wealth. As a sea power Amalfi came into conflict with Pisa and Genoa. Amalfi's code of maritime law (Tabulae Amalfitanae) prevailed throughout the whole of the Italian Mediterranean from the 13th to the 16th centuries.
Harbor (Municipal Museum)
Along the coast in Amalfi runs a promenade and a beach. From the harbor, the Marina Grande, there are boat services to Naples, Capri and Salerno in the summer. The houses cling to the bay. From the harbor it is a short distance by way of Piazza Flavio Gioia to the Town Hall; the facade is decorated with modern mosaic. The municipal museum (Museo Civico) is housed in the Town Hall; its major attraction is the so-called "Tavole amalfitane", a medieval document with the maritime law of ancient times. To the north lies the little Piazza del Duomo, from which a flight of 62 steps leads up to the cathedral.
St Andrews Cathedral
The Duomo Sant'Andrea, originally built in the ninth century, was remodeled in Sicilian Lombard-Normanesque style in 1203; the campanile dates from 1180 to 1276. The magnificent portico, with pointed arches, was completely rebuilt in 1865. The front which was restored in 1890 is decorated with modern mosaic; the fine bronze door was cast in Constantinople in 1066. Inside there are ancient columns of Paestum, supporting the choir. The crypt contains the remains of the Apostle St Andrew, brought here in the 13th century. To the left, in the portico, is the entrance to the cloister (Chiostro del Paradiso, 1266-68), which contains ancient sarcophagi, marble and mosaics.
About 500m/550yd west of the cathedral, high above Amalfi (also reached by lift from the coast road), is the former Capuchin monastery (now a hotel) with a beautiful cloister and affording fine views.
The surroundings of Amalfi include the Grotta di Amalfi, Atrani and Ravello.
There is an attractive trip by motorboat (15 minutes) to a stalactitic cave, the Grotta di Amalfi, also known as the Grotta dello Smeraldo or Grotta Verde, west of the Capo Conca (fee).Emerald Cave became a marine cave as a result of changing ground levels due to the influence of vocanoes in the region. The water is so clear that it is possible to see through to the bottom (10m below), and is colored a beautiful emerald.
On the coast road, beyond the Capo di Amalfi, at the mouth of a gorge of the Dragone, is the little town of Atrani (12m/40ft). In the Piazza is the church of San Salvatore de' Bireto (10th century), the church where the doges of Amalfi were crowned. Its Byzantine bronze doors were cast in Constantinople in 1087.
From the east side of Atrani a winding road with two sharp bends ascends through orange- groves to Ravello (350m/1,155ft), an old town in a superb situation above the Amalfi coast. The town founded during the Norman period, had its heyday under the Anjou dynasty in the 13th century when it had a population of 36,000; it possessed many churches, monastic houses and palaces.In the center of the town is the Romanesque cathedral of San Pantaleone (begun in 1086, remodeled in Baroque style) with fine bronze doors (covered externally with wooden doors) by Barisanus of Trani (1179). Inside there is a marble pulpit with a mosaic ground by Niccolo di Bartolomeo (1272). In the choir stands the bishop's throne, to the left the Capella di San Pantaleone in which some of the saint's blood is preserved.Southeast of the cathedral is the Villa Rufolo, in Saracenic style (11th century), with a little pillared courtyard in the center. The garden with its lookout terrace (340m/1,122ft) provided Wagner with the model for Klingsor's enchanted garden.A walk (about eight minutes) from the cathedral, first south through an arcade, then up through the portico of the church of San Francesco (cloister in Romanesque style) and past the church of Santa Chiara leads to the Villa Cimbrone. An avenue runs through the beautiful park to the Belvedere Cimbrone, from which there are incomparable views of the Amalfi coast.About 200m/220yd northeast of the cathedral is the church of San Giovanni del Toro (12th century; remodeled in Baroque style and modernized). Inside there is a mosaic pulpit adorned with Persian majolica (c. 1175); on the pulpit steps and in the crypt are frescoes of scenes from the life of Christ.
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